Pond Hockey and Climate Change

by Harrison Chotzen

In 2015 Australian Event-Management specialists Sheranne Fairley, Lisa Ruhanen and Hannah Lovegrove wrote a comprehensive article discussing the impact of climate change on The Pond Hockey Classic (PHC). This tournament, founded in 2009 by hockey fanatic Scott Crowder in Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire, has spread to Vermont, Montana, New York and Philadelphia. The tournament is highly popular amongst the hockey community as it provides a place for those who grew up playing on frozen ponds to relive their glory days, and also provides a novel experience for younger players. However, the warming winter temperatures of climate change pose an imminent threat to the organization and sport as a whole. The Northeast region of the US, where the majority of the tournaments are held, has seen an average winter temperature increase of 4°C since 1970, a trend that is projected to intensify in the coming years. Additionally, winter recreation and the associated tourism is an enormous industry in the Northeast, contributing an estimated US$7.6 billion annually to the Northeastern economy. If the projected increases transpire, the industry will be jeopardized, and for Crowder and the PHC they have already taken a toll. In both 2011 and 2012 events were called off due to inadequate ice conditions, resulting in a financial misfortune for Crowder and the local businesses that benefit from the PHC, as well as a sort of wake up call: the warm weather scientists refer to as “imminent” and “inevitable” had arrived. However, being a passionate hockey player, entrepreneur, and outdoor enthusiast, Crowder was not ready to loose hope.

Committed to the longevity of the sport, in the years following the cancelations, Crowder initiated a series of mitigation tactics in order to make it clear that his organization was committed to environmental sustainability, and hopefully inspire others to follow in his footsteps. His methods included the making of a short documentary, titled ‘On Frozen Ponds’, in which he sought to celebrate the subculture of pond hockey and to educate the sport’s community on the effects of climate change. Crowder also publically partnered with environmentally sustainable apparel business’ and an environmental consulting firm, studying their business models and formulating a sustainability pledge for the PHC. Furthermore, following the advice of Dr. Cameron Wake, a paleoclimatologist and proponent of his initiative, Crowder has spent the past few years focusing on two primary themes: mitigation and adaptation. Not only has he set a sustainable path for the PHC, but he has since expanded his sport-management career to accommodate summertime activities on New England’s Lake Winnepesake. His primary operations are the Ekal Activity center and and a chartered cruise service. An operation through which Crowder has done well for himself and his family, provided sustainable activities for locals and tourists alike, and helped support the local economy. While the future of the PHC is uncertain, Crowder has set a fine example of adapting his business methods to the changing climate.

Fairley, Sheranne, Lisa Ruhanen, and Hannah Lovegrove. ” The Impact of Climate Change on Hosting Pond Hockey Tournaments.” On Frozen Ponds: The Impact of Climate Change on Hosting Pond Hockey Tournaments. N.p., 16 Apr. 2015. Web. 01 Feb. 2016.

s.fairley1@uq.edu.au

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